The Pembroke Community Center Task Force says it's time.
The community center, which sits behind the town green at 128 Center St., has been in disrepair for quite some time now and is recommending the building be demolished.
“There’s nothing that can be done except knocking that building down and starting from scratch,” said Kyle Harney, a member of the task force. “It’s just a pile of asbestos and issues. They’ve done study after study and the structure is just beyond repair. I think that Pembroke has the right people, the right passion and the right direction to move forward.”
The task force is made up of Harney, Andrew Sullivan as the chairman, selectman Daniel Trabucco, Michael Guimares, Michelle Burt and Andy Wandell. They are “standing on the shoulders of giants,” as this is the third task force that has been assembled and have piggy-backed on what those previous groups have done.
The goal is not to plan for what the town needs now, but what the town will need decades from now, Harney said.
According to the task force’s planning update, the building has a failing septic system, HVAC system, roof and building envelope. A recent hazmat remediation proposal quoted $350,000 to remove asbestos and lead paint.
Pembroke Town Administrator Ed Thorne submitted a request for funding for the Pembroke Revitalization Project to the amount of $10 million in July 2018. That would encompass the reconstruction of the community center with the merger of the council on aging in the same facility.
Private housing could be added to the proposal, as the parcel of land extends 30 acres, according to Harney. Selling part of it to a real estate developer could also help offset the cost of the project.
“We would see a benefit that would be town-wide, as the housing could be 55-plus, for example,” he said. “It’s going to change the whole way the center of town breathes. We want to be proud of our town and have a whole new look to it.”
The task force hosts a monthly meeting at the Pembroke Public Library on the second Tuesday of each month, although it is not meeting in December. The public is welcome to attend the meetings, according to Harney, as “we see no benefit from doing anything behind closed doors” and they want to encourage public discussion.
Having a plan for the community center’s future on the May annual Town Meeting warrant is the task force's ultimate goal.
Lifelong resident Peter Brown said he dreams of seeing the building connect to the Pembroke Public Library, as well as a coffee shop inside that could potentially be run by adults who have special needs.
Harney said he agrees with that idea, as he has seen the concept work in other areas and is a great way for special needs adults to enter the work force.
Follow Adam Silva on Twitter @AdamSMariner.